The public hearings in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump kicked off today, with Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and the State Department official George Kent testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Representative Adam Schiff of California, who heads the committee, has been a central figure in the impeachment proceedings, guiding Democrats through closed-door depositions—and becoming the target of much of Trump’s ire.
Below, the full text of Schiff’s opening statement as delivered.
In 2014, Russia invaded a United States ally, Ukraine, to reverse that nation’s embrace of the West, and to fulfill Vladimir Putin’s desire to rebuild a Russian empire. In the following years, 13,000 Ukrainians died as they battled superior Russian forces.
Earlier this year Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine on a platform of ending the conflict and tackling corruption. He was a newcomer to politics and immediately sought to establish a relationship with Ukraine’s most powerful patron, the United States. The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit that ally’s vulnerability and invite Ukraine’s interference in our elections. Whether President Trump sought to condition official acts, such as a White House meeting or U.S. military assistance, on Ukraine’s willingness to assist with two political investigations that would help his reelection campaign. And if President Trump did either, whether such an abuse of his power is compatible with the office of the presidency.